I recently received a question in the comments section of our podcast Personality Types in Personal Development:
“I never quite thought of the auxiliary function (the co-pilot) as growth state, or at least in those words, but moreso as implementer of the primary function (the driver), which at the end of the day is actually growth! Would you elaborate a bit more on how you see growth from the co-pilot standpoint? Do you see it as merely the implementer of the Driver or as something more, or a combination of the two?”
In order to be a well-rounded person, we need to be able to do four things successfully:
1. We need to be able to get in touch with our ‘inner world’.
2. We need to be able to get ‘outer world’ feedback.
3. We need a way to take in new information.
4. We need a way to evaluate that information and make decisions.
If we’re missing any of those four things, we end up being lopsided. If we can’t get in touch with our inner world, we become overly reactionary to outside stimuli. If we’re out of touch with the ‘outer world’, then we ignore vital feedback that keeps us in touch with ‘reality’.
Similarly, if we don’t take in new information we become highly prejudice. And, alternatively, if we can’t evaluate new information to make decisions we do nothing but tread water.
Awesomely, our Driver and Co-Pilot processes help use perform all four, since each of 8 cognitive functions are either Extraverted or Introverted as well as being either info-gathering or decision-making.
If your Driver process is Introverted, your Co-Pilot will automatically be Extraverted (and vice versa). And if your Driver process gathers new information, then your Co-Pilot automatically evaluates to make decisions (and vice versa).
(If you use the graphic for reference, remember that all the Sensor and Intuitive processes learn new information and all of the Thinking and Feeling processes evaluate information to make decisions.)
This is why we call the combination of the Driver and Co-Pilot your ‘genius’ – you can’t be in your genius if you’re missing two necessary components of personality. The stronger your Co-Pilot process, the more balanced you become as a person and the more in your genius you are.
As an aside – It’s not uncommon for people to assume that if you’re, say, an Intuitive you need to focus more on your Sensory process, or if you’re a Feeler you need to become more Thinker. It feels like a common sense approach to becoming ‘balanced’. Unfortunately, this only ends up diluting the talents of your Driver and Co-Pilot.
It’s called the ‘cost of specialization’ – you are going to, by definition, become stronger at the things you place your attention on and weaker at anything not within that sphere of attention. Since time on this planet is short, if you try to be good at everything you become good at nothing. My observation has been that the people at the top of their game haven’t tried to be more Intuitive if they’re Sensor or more feeler if they’re a Thinker. They’ve, instead, focused on developing that Co-Pilot process (whether they realize it or not!).
Back to the point.
Each personality type LOVES their Driver process. If you ask someone to describe themselves, even if they know nothing about personality types they’ll end up spending about 80% of their time describing that process. Using our Driver process is a pleasure, often puts us in a flow state, and we naturally allocate a lot of time to it. We clock our ‘10,000 hours’ using the Driver process because we just like it so much.
The Co-Pilot process… not so much. For a couple of reasons.
First, it will be in the opposite attitude of our Driver process. “Attitude” is in-speak for “Introversion or Extraversion.” Meaning, if our Driver process is Introverted, then our Co-Pilot is Extraverted (and vice versa, as mentioned before). The world in the opposite attitude of our Driver is a less comfortable place for most of us.
As an Extravert, I can attest to the ‘inner world’ being far less easy for me to manage than the outer one. And I’ve yet to meet an Introvert that doesn’t regularly need alone time to recover from the outer world.
So, our Co-Pilot process forces us to visit that ‘other’ world. This is GOOD for us, but not always comfortable.
Second, it will also require us to either be more thoughtful about our decisions or it will require us to make a decision. For those that have a decision-making process as their Driver, it’s sometimes difficult for them to slow down enough to take in more information. And for those who have information gathering as their Driver, feeling pressured to make a decision can be torture.
So, while our Co-Pilot is a natural gift and preference, the exercising of this process can represent discomfort. If we’re used to indulging ourselves psychologically and emotionally, we just won’t go there.
I should probably make a note about the difference between using and exercising a process. It’s easiest to do so with an illustration.
If you pick up a golf club and hit a golf ball with it, that’s using a golf club. If you dig a 4.25 inch hole and attempt to get the golf ball into that hole from 290 yards… now you’re exercising that usage. You’ve set a measurable goal and can observe improvement. Exercise isn’t simply usage, it’s increasing skill and competency.
We’re all going to use both our Driver and Co-Pilot processes. And unless we’re very unhealthy, we’ll exercise the Driver process because it’s fun to give it challenges and watch it improve. However, our Co-Pilot isn’t as intrinsically rewarding to push toward excellence, so it often is in a diminished ‘supporter’ role.
As I mentioned before, the people at the top of their game – gymnasts, musicians, mathematicians, engineers, etc… – are sometimes so balanced you can’t tell which process is their Driver and which is their Co-Pilot!
(There are some that are so unhealthy you can’t tell their Driver process, either, but this isn’t due to Co-Pilot development. They’re usually too invested in their 10 Year Old process or ‘forced’ into their 3 Year Old process synthetically.)
So, to answer your question: YES. The Co-Pilot process is the key to the whole enchilada. The more developed it is, the more a person actively exercises the process, the more they’re in their Zone of Genius. (I’d copyright that, but it’s not that good.)
Hope that helps – thanks for the question!
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